Setting limits on time and money in infertility treatment

We all have limits. We may not like them, they may get in our way, they may make us change our plans, but they are real and must be acknowledged. This is especially true in infertility, a disease whose treatment requires time and money and can impact your overall health and even your relationships.


If the common adage in selling real estate is “location, location, location”, the equivalent saying for fertility treatment is “age, age, age”. Not only do your chances of successful treatment diminish with each passing year, so do your other parenting options if treatment is not successful, such as adoption or using donor embryos. Time is one of the most costly limits in infertility.

It is crucial to be aware of time as soon as you realize you are not getting pregnant as soon as you hoped. You need to set a limit on how long you will stay with your gynecologist before moving to a reproductive endocrinologist (a fertility doctor). In my opinion many people wait way too long getting to an infertility clinic, wasting valuable time that they might need later.

Setting limits on time is still important once at a fertility clinic. How long do you want to try IUIs, before moving to IVF? How many cycles of IVF are you willing to go through if unsuccessful. Your infertility doctor can help you set these medical limits, but it is important to realize that time is not on your side and if you want to have options for parenting in the future, you need to be aware of setting time limits.

I would set a firm time limit for yourself for infertility treatment. There was a long mourning period for me with the relentless failure to get pregnant. I have a lot of health issues from the treatment. I wish I would have started the adoption process sooner so that perhaps my daughter wouldn’t be a singleton.~ K.S, Creating a Family Support Group Member


Time is not the only thing in short supply when going through fertility treatment. One of the most frustrating aspects of infertility is that most often health insurance does not cover the treatment of this disease leaving patients to find the funds on their own. The average IVF cycle costs $12,000-15,000, and this price goes higher if more advanced techniques, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or pre-implantation embryonic genetic testing, are used. Not many people have unlimited funds to treat this disease without going into significant debt.

Every patient/couple must decide how much they are willing and able to spend on treatment. It is helpful to start this discussion before treatment begins. Keep in mind that if infertility treatment is not successful, your future options for creating a family, such as surrogacy or adoption, are also potentially expensive.

It looks like donor egg is going to be our only option. Our clinic told us this before we tried the last 2 IVF cycles. I just wasn’t ready to give up. I’m only 38! But now our savings are completely drained and we have to decide whether to go into debt in order to do donor eggs. (Plus there is no guarantee that this will work, so we may have a huge debt and no baby.)


I wish I had not spent all our money on trying 4 cycles of IVF. They didn’t work and we are now saving every penny we can to afford to adopt. This means we can’t adopt for at least 2 more years and we aren’t getting any younger.~J.R.


Infertility treatment is stressful and stress can impact us in hundreds of ways, including affecting our relationships. Setting limits on how much you and your relationships, including and especially your marriage, can handle is crucial.

In my experience, this is hard limit to set going into treatment because you don’t really know how you and your body will handle the stress of treatment. Plus, therapy, massage, acupuncture and mind/body programs can all lessen stress and may alter the impact on your relationships. The crucial point to remember is that there is a limit to how much stress your marriage and other relationships can handle.

Our 6 year struggle to become parents has taken a huge toll on our marriage. We are now finally parents, but that has not automatically repaired the damage. Not sure what the future will bring.

Have Next Step in Mind

It’s important to set limits at the beginning on how much time, money, and stress you can “spend” on treatment. This preserves your sanity as well as your life, relationships, and marriage. Many people find it helpful to keep in mind throughout treatment what their next step could be to encourage you to not waste too much of your limited resources at any one step.

[I needed to] have a next step in mind at each step. What will I do if that procedure doesn’t work? (My husband hated this, but I’m more type A and needed to feel that sense of control over the path we took.)~B.C. Creating a Family Support Group Member

Did you set limits on fertility treatment? What were they? Did you stick with them?

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Image credit: Leo Hidalgo